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of the tribes of Israel to particular inheritances. The Gentiles are, therefore, said to “ receive an “ inheritance,” literally, “ a lot among them who “ are sanctified o." We are “ made meet to be “ partakers of the lot of the saints in light P.” Here creature-merit is excluded on every side. For the inheritance is not only called a lot, but we are said to be “ made meet for" it, which plainly shews, that we are naturally unmeet, and cannot qualify ourselves by any thing that we can do. Not only is the inheritance said to be given to the people of God by lot : but the expression is reversed. They are said to be chosen to it, in the same manner. For in Chrift " we “ have obtained an inheritance," or, “ we have “ been designed by lot :” and no wonder such language is used, as it follows,“ being predes“ tinated according to the purpose of him who “worketh all things after the counsel of his own “ will 9." The latter language shows the reason why the former is used. It is said, that we are designed by lot; because our enjoyment of the inheritance depends wholly on the sovereign pleasure of God. This mode of expression does not denote any thing accidental or contingent with respect to him; but that he pays as little regard to merit in the objects of his choice, as if they were chosen by lot ; as little, as a creature would do, who should decide with respect to an earthly inheritance in this way. We receive the inheritance willingly. But it is God whọ “ worketh in us to “ will.” We are eventually qualified for it. But this is only as he “ worketh in us to do."
" will." o Ads xxvi. 18.
p Col. i. 12.
4 Eph. 1 14
12. As God manifested his sovereignty, in the instance already mentioned, with respect to the tribes of Israel in general, he did so, in other instances, as to particular tribes, families and perSons. It is generally admitted, that before the giving of the law, the first-born of the different families of Israel had acted as priests. It appears, that for a time God sanctioned this prac- . tice, by hallowing the first-born". Now, Levi was not the first-born. Yet his posterity were separated to God for the work of the priesthood. Was it because of any superior worth in their progenitor ? Surely no. For Levi was brother to Simeon in cruelty. His children could not be better qualified than their brethren for the service of the altar, because their father had made a facrifice of the Shechemites. This designation is wholly referred to the pleasure of God. “ LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the “ ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before “the LORD, to minister unto him, and to bless in « his names." “ The priests, the fons of Levi “ shall come near; for them the LORD thy God “ hath chosen to minister unto him t."
Neither was Judah the first-born. But God conferred the sceptre on the tribe which bore his name. He “ chose not the tribe of Ephraim: " but chose the tribe of Judah u.” To it also he
gave Numb. ii. 13. $ Deut. 2. S.
t Deut. xxi. s. # Pfal. lxxviii. 67, 68.
gave the exclusive promise of the descent of the Messiah. In this tribe, the regal power was confined to the family of Jesse, although it was not distinguished for wealth or greatness. Thence some spake contemptibly of David : “ Who is “ David ? or who is the son of Jeffe v?" From this confideration David himself extols divine sovereignty: “ What am I, and what is my father's “ house, that thou hast brought me hitherto ?” Bethlehem was but a mean village. Yet here muft the Meffiah be born: “And thou Bethlehem
Ephratah, although thou be little among the “ thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he “ come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Il“ rael w.” The family of Joseph seems to have been one of the meanest in the house of David, or belonging to Bethlehem. For Jofeph and Mary could find no lodging but in a stable. Yet from this family must the Messiah spring.
13. God signalized his sovereignty in the choice, of that particular place where he would be worshipped. All places are alike to Him, to whom “ the earth belongs, and the fulness thereof;' who “ filleth heaven and earth*;" whom “ hea“ ven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain." But, under the law, he inculcated the doctrine of his sovereignty on the church, by not only regulating the whole manner of worship, but by limiting the place. That she might have still more reason for learning unreserved submission to his will, she was long kept in suspense. All that she
was y : Sam, sxv. 10,
w Micah F. 2.
was permitted to know, was the certainty of God's choosing such a place. But where it might be, or when he might be pleased to declare his will in this respect, she was absolutely ignorant. “ There “ shall be a place which the LORD your God shall “ choose, to cause his name to dwell there, thi“ther shall ye bring all that I command you *.” He dealt with the feed of Abraham as he had done with their father, with respect to that very place where he was afterwards to put his name. He commanded him to go and offer up his son on one of the mountains which he should tell him of y. Here, indeed, was the true Ifaac facrificed, This place, although in itself no better, was preferred to every other in the tribe of Judah, nay, in the land of Canaan : “Unto the place which “ the LORD your God shall choose, out of all your
tribes, to put his name there,—thither thou “ Thalt come ?." If their ritual worship, though conformable to the divine institution in every other refpect, wanted this single requisite of being offered at this place, they were assured that it would be totally unacceptable a. When the LORD distinguished the tribe of Judah, by putting his name in Jerusalem, it was in the way of rejecting every place in the tribe of Ephraim, within the boundaries of which his tabernacle had stood for many ages. “ He refused the tabernacle of Jo
seph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim : but " chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which
3. Deut. xii. 12, z Deut. xii. So
y Gen, xxii. 2. ; 2 Chron. iü. 1,
Deut. xii. 11, 13. 14.
“ he loved b.” Why did he prefer Judah to Ephraim, Jerusalem to Shiloh ? In Shiloh, indeed, his ordinances had been profaned. But he knew that this would soon be the case in Jerusalem also. We can give no reason for the preference, but that which God himself gives. This was his own pleasure. “ The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath “ desired it for his habitation. This is my reft “ for ever: here will I dwell, for I have desired “ it."
14. The same fovereignty appears in the means or instruments which God employs for accomplishing his purposes either of judgment or of mercy.
It would naturally occur to us, that when God meant to punish a people for their wickedness, he would employ instruments prepared for the work by a love of righteousness; that the innocent should wield the weapons of his vengeance against the guilty, the fincere against the hypocritical, the humble against the haughty, and the merciful against those “ who breathe out cruelty.” But “his ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our " thoughts.” He often takes a plan directly the reverse of that which would be supposed, or approved, by us. He employs the worst of men for the best of purposes. He takes instruments out of the devil's hand for performing his own work. He lets loose hell, that it may fight the battles of heaven. Short-sighted creatures are in danger of denying the work to be his, because they do not immediately discern his hand ; because they discern
Pfal. lxxviii. 68, 69.
c Pfal. cxxxii. 13, 14.